North Wessex Downs AONB, Units 3-4, Denford Manor, Lower Denford, Hungerford, RG17 0UN
01488 685 440 firstname.lastname@example.org
The North Wessex Downs Forum is an annual meeting of individuals and organisations that support and/or contribute to the aims of the Council of Partners.
The Forum plays an important role in enabling everybody who cares about the protected landscape of the North Wessex Downs to share ideas and information. The Forum guides the work of the North Wessex Downs AONB Council of Partners through its discussions and questions. Organisations attending the Forum can nominate representatives to the Council of Partners. The meeting also includes a review of the past year's projects and activities by the Chairman of the Management Working Group and the Director.
This year's Annual Forum has a 'starry' theme to it, as we will be discussing Dark Skies and Light Pollution: the key issues and why they matter.
The Forum is open to anyone, so please do come along and enjoy an interesting day.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the Partnership Coordinator, Julie Baldwin.
The Forum was held on 20 October in Pewsey and focused on how to spread the word about the fascinating history of the North Wessex Downs.
Background to the Day
The North Wessex Downs have a rich heritage and over the last 10 years work has progressed steadily to describe and document the historic character of the AONB.
Earlier this year, a small grant was secured from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to develop this work further and to share it with a wider audience. The HLF funding with matching contributions from the AONB supports three main elements:
1. workshops to engage a wider audience in identifying the priorities and preferred approach
2. developing practical resources to meet the needs expressed
3. presenting the resources and tools at a Heritage Forum in the Spring of 2016
The Forum was the perfect opportunity to run the first stage of this work.
The event was attended by more than 60 people with good representation from conservation, heritage and community groups as well as the farming community, local authorities and parish councils. In addition to an update on the work of the North Wessex Downs AONB Partnership, there were presentations on how to consider historic character and a review of the historic landscape character work already completed.
For the workshops, the audience was divided into four interest groups: farmers and land managers, heritage, community and planning. Each group was asked about the relevance of various aspects of the historic environment, the inherent challenges and how best to communicate the information.
The workshops were lively with plenty of well-informed, thoughtful and enthusiastic contributions. As a result, we were able to gather a considerable amount of data and comments both during the workshops and through the feedback forms.
Some of the comments served to confirm the work already done and there were some new insights as shown here:
Which aspects (of the historic environment) are of most relevance ?
• Understanding how history has shaped the landscape and settlements we see today
• Identifying the significance and value of aspects of the landscape
• Enabling data to be used by landowners and farmers to inform their management decisions
• Making information available to advisors to target interventions.
What are the challenges to communicating the information ?
• Giving a balanced view - and not implying that one historic landscape type is ‘best’
• Adjusting the message to deal with different audiences, interests and levels of knowledge
• Providing information on where development is most suitable rather "blocking".
How best can the information be communicated ?
• Online maps with information points
• Online mapping supplemented with information provided by local groups and experts
• Information centred on “Heritage walks “with content supplied by local experts
• Linking to other aspects of the landscape – such as the flora and fauna.
Forum guided walks
After lunch, there were two local heritage walks on offer. One group took a guided tour around historic Pewsey which included the Heritage Museum - housed in the recently renovated Victorian foundry. The museum collection reflects the life and pastimes of the people of the Pewsey Vale.
Others braved the threatening storm and walked along the ancient drove road (pictured) to the White Horse and were rewarded with brilliant autumn sunshine, a wonderful view of Pewsey and a fascinating talk on the history of the horse which was designed by George Marples and cut by volunteers from Pewsey Fire Brigade in 1937 to commemorate the Coronation of George VI.
Heritage project - next steps
Thank you to all those who attended and contributed so many thoughtful comments and good ideas. The outputs have been documented and the next step is to develop resources in line with the feedback.
The new materials will be launched at a Heritage Forum in the spring of 2016. If you would like to attend or have comments or ideas that you would like to share please contact us.
Around 70 people attended this year’s Annual Forum held at Oaksey House in Lambourn on 15th October.
The theme was Water, with speakers from the Environment Agency, Thames Water, Aldbourne Drainage Improvement Group and the five Catchment Partnerships in the AONB.
There was a presentation to the Council of Partners
Chairman Byron Carron in recognition of four years‘ service to the AONB.
In the afternoon there were visits to the Bagnor Estate at Hunt’s Cross to see habitat creation following extensive river restoration, and Farncombe and Nugent Farms near Lambourn to see Catchment Sensitive Farming measures.
There was also a tour of Oaksey House, led by Lady Oaksey, followed by a demonstration by Action for the River Kennet of their new EmRiver (water table for showing the effect of structures on water follow).
Comments have been very positive from those attending; 'Good networking opportunities over lunch & tea breaks', 'excellent & very valuable', 'very good - informal but quietly well organised'.
Courtesy of this years Annual Forum speakers, for those people wishing to view the presentations from the day, please find them listed below:
Over 115 people visited Wick Bottom Barn at Temple Farming, Rockley in the north west of the North Wessex Downs AONB to attend the 2013 Forum.
This year’s Forum offered something rather different from recent years. The theme was conservation on a truly landscape scale, and we focused on three strategic projects that are collaborating across the North Wessex Downs and beyond, Stepping Stones, Winning Ways for Wildlife and the Marlborough Downs Nature Improvement Area, followed by a presentation by Dr Dan Hoare from Butterfly Conservation.
We were up on the Marlborough Downs, generously hosted by the owner, Count Konrad Goess-Sarau and the Estate Manager, Chris Musgrave of Temple Farm as part of the farmer-led Marlborough Downs Nature Improvement Area, one of 12 awarded Government funding in 2012 for a three-year programme of wildlife conservation.
The afternoon activity was a tractor/trailer tour encompassing both Temple and Barbury Castle Estates to see highlights of the NIA.
Many of those attending remarked how the forum offers a valuable chance to meet other AONB partners 'particularly of like minded folk, of which there were many'!
If you would like further information regarding the Forum, or to contribute to the work of the North Wessex Downs, please contact the office.